Sunday, 28 August 2016

Campaign Casualties - Part One



Since I converted the 1813 campaign from PBEM to solo play I have taken much more interest in how the campaign actually works.  The campaign was designed to provide interesting battles for Jan and I to wargame.  But I was equally concerned that the campaign would be interesting for the ten players taking part.   There were five campaign areas each with a French and allied army of four corps each.   So battles were frequent and very varied.

Wargames are often decided by the luck of the dice, and ours are no different.   The result can often be heavy casualties on one side.   This is not a problem when fighting “one off” battles, but can have a major effect in a campaign.  Casualty replacement quickly became a major concern.

Each phase of the campaign was designed to last about three or four months and provide about three or four battles.   However if the first battle of a campaign resulted in one side suffering very heavy casualties, particularly in cavalry or gunners, they would never really recover their battle effectiveness.

I did not want a campaign commander to lose because of poor dice during his first battle.   Some might argue that it should be possible, and often happened in real life.   But that would not be much consolation to a player who had put weeks of work into his campaign plan and initial movement to lose it all because of a wargame over which he had no control.

I could overcome this by campaign casualty replacement.   It is reasonable to suggest that most battlefield casualties would return to their regiments soon after the battle.   Some would have light casualties, some would have run away and later rallied.

Most of our battles were small affairs between one or two corps.   Casualties were often concentrated in one or two brigades and could be 20% or 30%.   Cavalry and gunners suffered a higher proportion of casualties than infantry.

After a battle the loser would retreat, and the winner halt and reorganise.   For each day spent “resting and reorganising” a corps would receive 400 infantry, 100 gunners or 100 cavalry replacements.   This represented 10% of an infantry or cavalry brigade or corps artillery. 

Infantry casualties would be concentrated in one brigade in each corps, always the one which had suffered the greater casualties.   So a corps would effectively lose one of its four infantry brigades.   The remaining three would be all fight at their full combat effectiveness.   So the overall effect was not too great.

But cavalry or gunner casualties would have a major effect on their combat effectiveness.   If casualties were more than 10% or 20% they would still take part in battles, but would be very fragile in combat and more of a liability than a useful part of the corps.   If they had 30% casualties or more they would be removed from the order of battle until they had received battle replacements.

During the PBEM campaign there were five campaign areas, each providing a battle every two or three campaign days.  So there was never any shortage of battles to wargame.   And because each area was at a different stage of their mini campaign, there were a wide variety of battles.

When I converted to Solo campaign I also decided to game just one campaign area at a time.  This was to make the map side of the campaign more interesting and manageable.  But it also made the problem of battle replacement more urgent.

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